Haymaking in Wet Conditions | Advantage Ag & Equipment
How to Get Dry Hay During a Wet Year
Getting good quality hay is important for any farm. Unfortunately, a rainy season can make this difficult. So, what should your haymaking strategy be when it’s been a wet year? Luckily, there are a number of tips and tricks you can use to continue to get dry hay, even when it’s been damp outside. Follow the suggestions below to always get high-quality hay.
Timing is Critical to Good Haymaking
It goes without saying that you want to wait for a dry day before you break out the mower and start cutting your hay. You’ll also want to look ahead at the weather forecast before you begin the process. You’ll need a few hot sunny days to help dry your hay before you begin baling. Any rain following cutting will decease your dry matter yield, so avoid it as much as possible.
When cutting your hay, make sure to do it after the morning dew dries, as this just adds additional moisture on top of the water content you’re already dealing with.
Finally, monitor the moisture levels of your fields. Try to start your haymaking when the overall water content is low, as hay will soak up moisture from the soil and add to the amount of time it takes to dry.
Utilize Proper Hay Conditioning
Proper hay conditioning is one of the best ways to ensure you end up with dry hay. Make sure your rollers and crimpers are adjusted and calibrated properly. This will ensure you remove as much water as possible.
You’ll want to properly maintain your equipment and replace it as needed. Rollers and crimpers can become worn overtime, which causes them to become less effective at removing moister.
Use a Tedder to Dry Hay Faster
Once you run your mower over your field, you’ll need to wait for the hay to completely dry before you start baling. If your windrows are a little more moist than you’d like, consider using a tedder to speed up the process.
Tedders fluff the windrows, increasing air circulation and helping the hay dry faster. Just remember not to use a tedder on alfalfa after it’s partially dried, as it could rip the leaves off and decrease the quality.
Monitor Your Moisture Content
Monitoring moisture content is one of the most important parts of haymaking. Hay baling must occur when the moisture level is just right to ensure the best results, so keep a close eye on your hay after it’s cut.
If hay is baled when the moisture levels are too high it could suffer from excessive heating and molding. If hay is baled when the moisture levels are too low, dry matter losses will occur.
The ideal moisture level for hay baling is 18-22%.
Watch for Mold in Your Hay
If you’re dealing with more moisture than usual there’s a greater chance you could end up with mold. Mold in your hay poses serious health risks to your livestock, so make sure you stay extra vigilant.
Mold can develop at every step of the process, from the time your crops are in the field to after your hay has been baled, so you will need to be monitoring your hay throughout the entire season. Remove any affected crops or hay to ensure it doesn’t spread.
The best way to prevent mold is to keep your hay as dry as possible. As mentioned earlier, hay baling at the right time is very important. You’ll want to make sure the temperature of the hay continues to rise after baling to prevent mold, but not so much that is causes any heat damage.
High Quality Hay Equipment Advantage Ag & Equipment offers a wide variety of high-quality hay equipment, including mowers, tedders, conditioners, hay balers, and more from the top manufacturers in the industry, New Holland, Sitrex and Pequa. Contact us, or come visit us, if you have any questions about haymaking.